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Chapter 2: Comprehensive Planning

Map of a community showing some areas in brown or green shaded highlights in scattered places

Why should communities invest the time and effort in creating and maintaining a comprehensive plan? A comprehensive plan aligns available resources properly to meet and maintain the goals of a community for preserving current character and creating a future identity. This is a dynamic process that should answer the questions: “Who are we?”, “Where do we want to be?” and “How will we get there?”

In the absence of a sound comprehensive plan, communities may lose their valued character and lose sight of their future goals through unplanned decision making. Without a plan, decisions are made on an ad-hoc basis without proper allocation of community resources to meet current and future needs of that community. Managing a community without a comprehensive plan would be like building a home without a proper blueprint.

The comprehensive planning process itself creates a dialogue among the public and stakeholders, as well as providing information about community affairs to those involved. The process also allows stakeholders to evaluate the potential outcomes of their decisions on the community and its neighbors, reducing the potential for unintended consequences, and maximizing the power of benefits that may result.